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CQ WW VHF Contest, 15 - 16 July 2006

Having not been very active on the bands, I thought perhaps a little contesting would be in order.  I decided to try my hand at the CQ WW VHF Contest (http://www.cqww-vhf.com/) on 15-16 July 2006 on 2M SSB.  I discussed my plans with a number of hams, looking for advice.  Ron Patterson, W6FM, suggested I try to operate on 6M, and offered to let me borrow his 6M loop antenna.  I didn’t have a portable mast for my antennas, so I bought a 15’ high portable tripod mast from Force 12.

So equipped for low power operations as a rover on 6M and 2M, I went to the top of Williams Hill, north of Paso near Lake San Antonio and set up on Saturday, 15 July.  This was an ideal spot for this type of operation, and I worked a number of 6M and 2M contacts.  I worked both Ron W6FM, and Mike AE6FL.  I stayed there for about 2 hours, and then decided to move on.


Williams Hill, CM95mw, 2665’, 15 Jul 06. 

My next planned grid square was DM05ax, over towards the intersection of Highway 41 and US 5, by Kettleman City.  I got there and set up at about 1600 PST.  I arrived in the middle of a giant opening on 6M, double hop to the east coast.  Awesome!  I made a number of long distance 6M contacts, and a couple of 2M ones.

I then moved north on US 5 to hit the next grid square, DM06.  I misjudged how little DM06 overlaps US 5, (at freeway speed, you are only in the grid square a minute or two).  I took the next exit and backtracked to the middle of some cotton field at DM06ax.  There were power lines everywhere, and no place to get any elevation.  I made one 2M contact here, gave up after listening to LOUD 60 cycle hum for a while, and headed towards Avenal.

I got to Avenal about 1900, and found a high ridgeline above the city that sported a few microwave towers.  I got set up at CM96wa, but the 6M opening had died out, and this was a darn noisy place, too.  After a couple of contacts, I called it quits and went home.


CM96wa near Avenal, 1310’, 15 Jul 06. 

I decided to head back out to one more grid square on the morning of Sunday, 16 July.  I went south, past Santa Maria, to CM94.  I wandered around extensively in the hills between Los Alamos and Vandenberg, but no matter where I tried, I didn’t hear much.  I headed back towards Santa Maria, and then found a likely spot near Orcutt, above and looking down on Santa Maria and the valley at CM94tu.  I worked a couple of stations here, including Ron W6FM and John W6HD.


CM94tu near Orcutt, 777’, 16 Jul 06 

So I made a total of 20 contacts in 8 grid squares, from 5 different grid squares, claimed score 450, about 400 miles traveled.  This wasn’t much of a score, but I had fun.   I plan on operating next in the ARRL UHF contest on 5-6 August, 2006, and if I finish my transverter in time, the ARRL 10 Ghz and Up contest on 19-20 Aug.

What I’d do differently next time:

- Drive less, talk more.  I’d worry less about getting grid squares, and more about logging contacts.  I should have stayed in DM05 and worked the 6M opening more.

- Be able to operate while driving.  The setup I used was such that I had to stop the vehicle and set up.  I would not have ever stopped at some of the places I tried to operate from if I could have heard how noisy they were in advance.

- Use a shorter length of better coax, the piece I used had about a 3dB loss on 2M. 

Equipment:
Group 24 gel deep cycle battery with PowerPole power distribution
Icom 706 MkIIG HF/VHF portable rig
Kenwood TH-D7A(G) 2M/70CM HT
Force 12 15’ portable mast
M2 6M loop (borrowed from W6FM, thanks, Ron!)
Par Electronics 2M OmniAngle loop
Garmin Etrex Legend GPS

 

73 de N6MOQ




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